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Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion at 100


A conversation on propaganda, the pitfalls of objectivity, and journalism in a democracy. With guest speakers Dr. Elisabeth Fondren and Dr. Julien Gorbach

For 100 years Walter Lippmann’s landmark book Public Opinion (1922) has been interpreted, critiqued, and used as basis for discussions on media and public affairs, democracy, and journalists’ professionalism. Lippmann argued that the modern mass society was too fragmented, too noisy, too wired, and the public too often reduced complex realities into illusionary images. Public Opinion is still considered instructive for the ongoing discourse on the media’s social responsibility, the role of propaganda, images and stereotypes in the press, and the opinion-making process via media that often fails to form a truly “public” opinion.

This lecture examined Lippmann’s critique of the press as well as his own journalistic work, and students drew parallels to today’s fragmented and propaganda-heavy media environment.

Dr. Elisabeth Fondren
Assistant Professor
of Journalism
Collins College of Professional Studies,
St. John’s University, NY

Dr. Fondren holds a Ph.D. in Media & Public Affairs from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication (2018). Her scholarship on the history of international journalism, government propaganda, military-media relations, and freedom of speech during wartime has been honored with multiple awards (most recently the 2022 Covert Award and the 2022 Michael S. Sweeney Award) and appeared in leading outlets. 

Dr. Julien Gorbach
Associate Professor 
 School of Communication
 and Information
University of Hawaii, Manoa

Dr. Gorbach is an award-winning journalist and media historian with more than two decades of experience. His book The Notorious Ben Hecht: Iconoclastic Writer and Militant Zionist was published by Purdue University Press (2019) and earned the National Jewish Book Award “Finalist” prize for Best Biography. His article, “The Non-Jewish Jew: Walter Lippmann and Pitfalls of Journalistic Detachment” and other studies have been published in American Journalism, Journalism History and Literary Journalism Studies. Dr. Gorbach earned his doctorate at the Missouri School of Journalism in 2013, and worked as journalist for many national outlets, including the Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, Time Out New York, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and the New Orleans Gambit

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